5 Hidden Axioms of Volunteer Management

Effective church leaders are excellent volunteer managers. Managing volunteer teams within your church is a nuanced and mysterious journey. It’s not always obvious what it takes to lead them well! Here are 5 truths that I’ve uncovered, which weren’t obvious to me when I started leading in church:

  • paradoxVolunteers are Donors // In a very real way, volunteers are paying us to create a positive service environment for them. Treat volunteers well because they pay your salary!
  • Strategize for Friendship // We need volunteers to make church happen; however, volunteers often want to build relationships with other people. We are responsible for creating a service environment where friendships blossom.
  • More Opportunities = More Volunteers // Effective church leaders find ways to create more “spaces” for volunteers. Rather than a scarcity mindset that focuses on not having enough people to fill roles, our job is to create more spots for people to serve.
  • Release Earlier // Give away the leadership of your volunteers to other volunteers as quickly as possible. Become a leader who leads leaders.
  • Think Outside the Weekend // There are tasks that you could give to volunteers during the week, which would accelerate your ability to serve people. Pull volunteers into what you do throughout the week!

What have you learned about managing volunteers that wasn’t obvious when you started leading in a local church?

{BONUS: Check out this article on how Church of the Highlands gets 1/3 of its people to volunteer!}



  1. Great points! What I’ve also learned:
    1 Volunteers love/need food.
    2. Volunteers love to feel they are getting “inside information” in advance about future events / projects / news at the church.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.